KZN COTGA MEC must urgently intervene in dysfunctional Umhlathuze municipality

George Mari, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on COGTA

The Democratic Alliance calls on KwaZulu-Natal COGTA MEC, Nomusa Dube, to immediately intervene in Umhlathuze Municipality as political infighting renders the municipality dysfunctional.

The DA has in its possession three sets of documents, all addressed to Council Speaker, Mvuseni Mnqayi, which detail formal complaints lodged by different parties or structures within the Municipality and which include grievances, accusations and counter-accusations against each other.  The information reveals that the Mayor, Councillor Elphas Mbatha, administrative staff represented by the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) and the Municipal Manager, Dr NJ Sibeko – along with several of his Deputy Managers – are all at loggerheads.

The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) is accusing the Municipal Manager and his staff of “not sufficiently providing the leadership expected of him.”  The Municipal Manager has, in turn, submitted a grievance to the Speaker requesting that “continued undermining of the Office of the Municipal Manager should be halted”. The document details allegations that the Mayor is interfering with and undermining his position.  In response, the Mayor has lodged a formal complaint against the Municipal Manager.

The documents were presented to the Speaker during October and November last year.  Yet, to date there has been no resolution to these complaints, nor, it appears, has the Municipality been able to progress beyond the breakdown of these relationships.

The “Submission of Issues” from the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) is a 13 page document detailing a list of “problems that workers in the Municipality and DA members in particular raised as far back as 2009”.   This document was handed to the Speaker in October 2012 and includes a litany of complaints regarding the failure of the Municipal Manager and his certain of his deputies to subscribe to the prescriptions of the various Municipal Legal frameworks within which they are required to act.

The formal grievance submitted by the Municipal Manager gives details of incidents of alleged interference by the Mayor in the management or administration, and “generally encouraging or participating in conduct or activities which would contribute to maladministration in the Council”.  He further states that “relations between himself and the Mayor is (sic) non-existent”

The Mayor, in his response to the grievance raised by the Municipal Manager alleges that, “the MM has failed and or refused to execute his duties as prescribed by the legislation, alternatively the Municipal Manager has found it difficult to comprehend the scope of his mandate”.  He further alleges that “one Deputy Municipal Manager has without fail gone out of her way to undermines structures of Council and resolutions of Council [and] has rendered the relationship between the Municipal Manager and myself in a state of disrepair and broken down”.

Clearly service delivery will be the greatest victim of this political wrangling.  Urgent outside intervention is needed.  To expect the Speaker, himself a political appointee, to sift through the mess of accusations would be unreasonable and surely will not be guaranteed to serve the interests of the community.

The DA calls on the MEC to appoint an urgent Commission of Enquiry before Umhlathuze becomes yet another failed KZN Municipality.

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